Images by Jeff Sampson Photography

A forlorn circus clown tries to convince himself he has not been made a fool by his cheating spouse.

An inept improviser downplays his fake drug addiction to impress a pretty grad student.

A jaded trauma surgeon laments the limitations the Hippocratic Oath places on comedy in the workplace.

These are just a few characters warped into the mind of writer Brian Bieber.

“There are stories in this book that are absolutely ridiculous. There are some that—while funny—get pretty dark,” described Bieber. “And there are some that are actually kind of sweet.”


Nickel Plated Gold, a collection of 19 short stories composed over a decade, was officially released Aug. 27, and is available online for $12.99 at, and copies can be purchased at Zandbroz Variety in downtown Sioux Falls.

These characters that populate the book are not the only ones making an appearance. Stories in first person from Bieber are included as well, with scenarios like listing ways he would fight certain animals, describing his first “heavy petting sessions” through a Chuck Norris comparison and his desperate search for his backpack (or as he describes, his “life”).

All have the commonality that they’re simply trying to do the right thing, all while usually failing miserably. As humorously are their own worst enemy, Bieber never included factors such as actual villains in the tales.

“…Watching well-intentioned characters bump into one another is much more interesting to me,” explained Bieber.


Nickel Plated Gold falls under his already established brand Ghosts & Horses, which had its beginnings while he was living in Minneapolis attending the University of Minnesota for creative writing. Homemade literature would be scattered throughout town in public places such as coffee shops, rock clubs and theatre venues with “out there” content.

“It seemed like everywhere I went there was some kind of far-out religious tract or fringe political pamphlet lying around,” he said. “Some were so weird that it was hard to believe they weren’t jokes.”

This intrigued him to join the party and start making his own “nonsense pamphlets.”

“My goal was always to make them blend in, and be ridiculous enough to be funny, but also deadpan enough to make people wonder if they were for real,” said Bieber.

One of the first pamphlet he created was entitled “Ghosts & Horses: Differences and Advantages,” which sounded exactly as it sounded, comparing ghost and horses  in an itemized list.

The name stuck. That, and he never saw anyone typing in their browser without falling asleep on their keyboard.

To read the rest of the cover story, pick up an issue of 605 today! 

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